The Champion Bumper has grown into a popular Festival race over the past 20 years from both a sporting and a betting point of view and it is now a firm favourite among the Cheltenham crowd. It is of course the only Grade 1 flat race on the National Hunt calendar and does offer jump racing fans the chance of running the rule over some of the potential superstars of the future.
We have seen some excellent winners of the Bumper emerge down the years including Florida Pearl (1997), Cue Card (2010) and Champagne Fever (2012) among others and this year's race is starting to look like another top renewal. The Irish trainers have farmed the Bumper at the Festival with Willie Mullins in particular dominating the contest with no less than eight winners to his name since 1996.
Leading Champion Bumper Contenders.
Ante-Post Champion Bumper punters should start their research in one place and one place only and that is of course with the yard of the already mentioned Willie Mullins who always has a strong team of young horses. That is certainly the case once again this season with the Irish Champions Trainer already gathering a mighty looking squad of potential Bumper runners at Cheltenham with all of his powerful owners likely to have at least one runner with the County Carlow handler.
Any number of Mullins Bumper horses have won this season including Bordini (10/1), Au Quart De Tour (10/1), Up For Review (10/1), Pylonthepressure (14/1), Stone Hard (14/1) and Balko Des Flos (14/1) to name just a few of his potential runners in the field.
We certainly should give Bordini a special mention with the Rich Ricci owned 5-year-old already the winner of two bumper races an he is perhaps the one building the best reputation in the game. He picked up well on his most recent win at Navan before Christmas when he beat the Gigginstown owned Attribution who is clearly a decent horse for Henry De Bromhead.
The vibes from the yard about Bordini have been positive since that victory which is interesting in itself and he is clearly a classy animal to be followed going forward. The same can certainly be said of Up For Review who is likely to be the Graham and Andrea Wylie owned entry in the Bumper this season. They were the team that saddled Briar Hill to victory in the Bumper a couple of years ago and they will be hoping that Up For Review can follow in this hoof-setps. He won nicely on his only start this season at Leopardstown over Christmas as he came off of a strong pace to pull well clear and visually he was certainly impressive that day while he is clearly suited to the strong gallop that will no doubt come at the Festival.
Any of the Mullins horses could well be anything at this stage given that they have all won their last start but trying to pick the best of them at this stage is fraught with danger which does lead us to look for value elsewhere in the Champion Bumper Betting market.
The David Pipe trained Moon Racer was the super impressive winner of the Bumper at Cheltenham back in October and he has been ear-marked for the Festival contest ever since. He was an expensive purchase but he looked worth it during that win when he pulled clear of Arabic History who has franked the form since with a win and there is no doubt that Moon Racer is a horse for the future over hurdles and has to be respected in this one.
Recent recruit to the Henry De Bromhead yard, Supasundae, could well be a major player in the race after his hugely impressive debut win last December. Supasundae (12/1) is on tack for the Champion Bumper, having previously been with Andrew Balding, and he looks to be a very nicely bred horse who could just have the class to run a big race against horses who perhaps are more likely to fulfil their potential over obstacles.
By Galileo and out of a half sister to the classy Nathaniel, Supasundae looked very good indeed when beating the highly touted Yanworth (33/1) on his only start this season at Ascot just before Christmas. The Ascot race featured nine last time out winners and has produced good winners in the past while the front two pulling well clear of the field is always a good sign of a couple of excellent horses. The jockey booking of Barry Geraghty was also an eye catching one that day but perhaps the most important part of that win was they stamina he showed over the final couple of furlongs.
In the past we have seen some bigger priced winners like Cue Card who famously won at 50/1 so punters are well advised to take a closer look at horses slightly further down the market. One of those who could run well for punters is the exciting See The World (20/1) who could well take his chance for Emma Lavelle in the Bumper.
The 5-year-old has had just the one start on a racecourse but it was an extraordinary one as he managed to win at Wincanton at the back end of January despite almost pulling himself up. He veered to the left during the race and lost tons of ground but somehow Aidan Coleman got him back on track before the horse made up the ground and won. It is of course difficult to assess the form of that race in this context but given the way he won, there is no doubt that See The World is a horse with plenty of talent who is not without a chance.
Dermot Weld won this race last year with Silver Concorde and he could well decide to send Vigil (12/1) back to the race for a second time this March. He finished 5th in the Bumper last year when he ran well and he looked in decent form again at the back end of December when he won the Ryanair INH Flat Race and he is not without a chance. The 6-year-old has experience on his side against many of his opponents which is interesting although it would be a surprise if he didn't a few too good once again.
Having an ante-post bet on the Champion Bumper is one of the toughest propositions in the sport from a betting point of view. It is hard enough to pick which horses will actually run let alone picking the winner, given how much these young horses can improve each time they run, but there are some very good horses to pick over this season.
As we all know, Willie Mullins has dominated the race and he is sure to have at least two or three contenders to go to war with this season. Bordini is clearly a talented horse with the vibes coming from the yard being positive and should run well, while Up For Review impressed this eye, out of the remaining Mullins contenders, when he won last time out with the same owner and trainer winning the Bumper with Briar Hill in 2013 also a bonus.
Although the home team have popped up with a winner of two down the years, it is the Irish who have dominated the Bumper and we feel that could continue this season. Supasundae was hugely impressive when winning at Ascot back in December with he and the second that day, who is also a good prospect for Alan King, going well clear of the field which is always a good sign.
That coupled with classy breeding history of Supasundae is enough for us to back a horse who is almost sure to run in the race, fitness depending. The Potts family were clearly impressed with the horse as they bought him to send to Henry De Bromhead at the start of the year which is a tip in itself, while he looks versatile in terms of ground which should also stand him in good stead come March.